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Global Justice and the Remittances Challenge: Confronting the €1 trillion “gap” in the literature

Project description

Interdisciplinary study of remittances and global justice

The global remittances economy involves one billion people (200 million senders and 800 million receivers). It exceeds a whopping EUR 1 trillion annually, which is much more than the official development assistance to developing countries. Remittances are lifelines for the receivers. The ERC-funded JUSTREMIT project will investigate why remittances are absent in liberal global justice debates. First, it will evaluate contemporary global justice theory from the perspective of remittances and the agency of the global poor. To shed light on the ethical, cultural and religious practices behind remittances, the project will conduct an ethnographic study of the remitter/receiver relationship. With the findings, the project will theorise global justice in a new way.


Remittances are the single most important source of global relief for the world’s poor, exceeding €1 trillion annually. Remittances outstrip Official Development Assistance by a factor of four and, in 2018, surpassed Foreign Direct Investment for the first time. 1 billion people are directly involved in the remittances economy, including 200 million senders and 800 million receivers. The benefits of remittances for receivers and their communities are broad and deep. Remittances support basic nutritional needs, housing, healthcare, and other critical daily expenses. Often these subsidies are lifelines without which receivers would be destitute. Remittances also improve childhood educational attainment levels, support local and state development and democracy, and serve as insurance against natural and political disasters. One would expect that GJ theory would be analytically able to incorporate remittances and normatively keen to explore the vast potentials for real-world injustice alleviation inherent to them. However, that is not the case. Just the opposite. Liberal GJ theory usually ignores remittances or frames them as harmful, and denies—sometimes denigrates—the agency of remitters. To sloganize: 1 billion people and €1 trillion are missing from the GJ debates. Worse, liberal GJ theorists endorse policies that could reduce remittances and increase harm. What is called GJ is often experienced by the world’s poorest as manifest injustice. JUSTREMIT investigates the paradigmatic constraints which make this injustice inevitable and invisible to liberal GJ theory. Then, using both theoretical and ethnographic studies, it constructs an alternative paradigm that rectifies that injustice by putting remittances and the agency of the global poor at the centre of the new paradigm. JUSTREMIT does not simply contribute to GJ theorization, it challenges and reconstructs its foundation while introducing new empirical modes of investigation and opening new policy horizons.



Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 920,00
Rapenburg 70
2311 EZ Leiden

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West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Agglomeratie Leiden en Bollenstreek
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)